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Is there any official certification system for Judo mats?

What specific characteristics should one be looking for in a Judo mat? Remember the primary purpose of the Judo mat is injury prevention.

Assume a hard unsprung floor underneath the mats (eg concrete garage).

Please address all of the following factors:

  • thickness (I've heard varying advice...anything from 1 inch to 2.5 inches, what's the minimum for injury prevention)
  • material type (eva crosslinked foam?)
  • material density (different densities affect the impact absorption characteristics)
  • longevity (I've heard it said that EVA foams are sacrificial, so that they break down over time and lose their impact absorption qualities)

Extra points for the effects of UV (for outdoor use), on the mat in your answer.

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5 Answers 5

Firstly, there is no minimum for injury prevention - but the thicker the rubber, the better the protection. Too thick and it will feel spongy, so while a thick rubber might be suitable for a martial art that incorporates a lot of throws, you might want a thinner one for disciplines which require jumps and rapid changes of direction.

The karate and TKD clubs round here all go for the 40mm thickness (about 2 inches), and use EVA high density foam (which will last longer under repeated impacts)

The main provider in the UK specifies that their mats pass:

  • EN71 (2005) + A6 Part 1 Physical & Mechanical

  • BS EN71 (2006) +A1 Part 2 Flammability

  • BS EN71 (1995) +A1 +AC1 Part 3 Toxicity

  • and of course Lead Free and Latex

I'm afraid I have no information as to UV protection, and never seen any.

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Thicker doesn't equal better. It's more about the quality.

Judo mats need to be different then TKD or Karate or even wrestling mats.

You should be looking for mats designed for judo.

Dax, Swain, and Zebra are all reputable brands that make excellent tatami.

things to look for:

  • texture on the tatami (should be the rice grain pattern, this is ideal for judo as it allows for quick movements, and is best for sliding your feet on)
  • the material on the bottom (should be some kind of rubberized and textured material that doesn't slide easily, or you will constantlybe fixing the mats)

Swain has a 10 year warranty which is pretty impressive. I know my old judo club had the same mats for the entire time i was a member (well over 10 years) with no issues at all.

If you don't have any kind of spring in the floor, I would recommend having a layer of cheap puzzle mats or something underneath any mat, just for a little extra.

A lot of people use wrestling mats for judo, but the one big difference in wrestling and judo is foot sweeps, which can be dangerous on wrestling mats because they are softer and you sink into them a bit. This can lead to a lot of ankle and knee injuries. So the "harder" more impact absorbing and less "sinking" judo mats are best.

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Our club uses Zebra mats. They are the best mats I've practiced on. Firm but not hard. They also have a non-skid bottom which work even on a highly polished floor.

http://www.zebramats.com/

We bought ours after a national judo tournament. They supplied the mats and sold them for cheap when finished.

The mats will fade some in sunlight, but I haven't noticed anything else (direct sunlight through the window - not outside).

Even after getting soaked a few times (leaky windows and flooding), they still perform well after 10 + years.

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There is no certification for Judo mats, which sucks because I've seen people advertising 1" puzzle mats as judo mats where someone can get their back broken on. Judo around the world is competed on 1.5" or 40mm mats. You want to make sure you buy a quality mat. Its all about quality because not all foam is the same density - stay away from EVA foam its high density... but very low density when comparing it to any judo mat. (We helped my gym's owner pick the right mat for his club after a nightmare we had with our swain mats, the vinyl was bubbling and the mats warped after only a few years.)

We learned that Swain mats are made in China, and the manufacturing process is different than any mats made in Europe and they just don't hold up the same. DAX and Zebra mats are both made in Germany (isn't everything better that's made in Germany?), anyway we ended up getting Zebra mats for a really good deal and they are a dream, we all pitched in, they tend to be a little more expensive but we all feel it was well worth it. By far the best mats I've trained on.

We didn't make a slam floor, we cheated and just put a 1/2" roll of cheap foam underlay under the mats to give a bit added cushion and its all we needed.

I definitely recommend the Zebras. check them out

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Thanks for sharing your first-hand experience. Nice answer. –  Dave Liepmann Jul 20 '12 at 14:11

Just a heads up for those thinking of buying German made mats. I purchased 50 of the highest quality judo mats from Regupol 6 years ago (as I understand it they are the biggest manufacturer of mats in Germany). Model was E215 40 mm thick Tatami vinyl finish mats. They come with a five year warranty. Two months ago we pulled up the mats to clean the floor and found they were falling apart on the edges terrible (cracking, fraying etc). So far my attempts for an answer from regupol has been frustrating to say the least. Two months and I am still being pushed off and "waiting" for an answer for Germany. Worse still is I had a number of spare mats that I did not use in the dojo and kept in a spare room covered - and they are deteriorating as well! So far regupol Australia has dropped the ball on this and tried to infer that I "did something" to the mats.

I have been very disappointed by the poor service - I am about to take it up with consumer affairs in Australia.

It was a huge purchase for our dojo (over 11,000AUD) to get mats that wont last and so far sub par service.

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